This morning around ten I took a walk in the park across the street from my office. I entered the Pioneer’s Museum as a member of City Council, and left a quasi-private citizen. Having done this twice now, I am still impressed with the American culture and the way we accept changes in authority. As one reviews history, or even reading the events in the middle east over the past several months, it is clear that for almost all of written history up to today’s events, that when one gets political power, it is exceedingly difficult to walk away from it. Often the former leader leaves feet first, or, as in recent Middle East events, a step ahead of an angry mob which would not hesitate to arrange a feet first exit. In America, following each election, the old quietly leave office, perhaps bruised of ego if they lost, but none the less healthy. The newly elected step forward with clean, but unwashed hands, take up the reins and lead.
I mentioned that I am a quasi-private citizen. As the newly elected learn sooner or later (see here) one of the prices paid for elective office is the loss of privacy. Shortly after I was elected for the first time, I was in the grocery store. There I was, peering over the meat counter looking at ground round when someone stopped and accused me of being Randy Purvis. Alas, I had to plead guilty. Then I discussed the issue of the day with him for several minutes, trying to understand his position and explain why I had voted the way I did. The price is paid by knowing that in office, one is a role model for others and is expected to live an exemplary life. Any failure to meet that standard can quickly become front page news, even after one leaves office. The price is also paid by the spouse and children of the elected official. I am deeply indebted to my wife and to our three children for their having shared the bill while I served on City Council.
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